Opinion: 98-49
April 23, 1998
Digest:    A judge may not serve as the Grand Marshal of a parade, or as a speaker at a rally held after the parade, where the organization sponsoring the parade will be engaged in fund-raising activities as part of the event.

Rules:    22 NYCRR 100.4(C) (3) (b) (ii).
              Opinions 98-15; 94-90(Vol. XII);
              94-16(Vol. XII; 93-24(Vol. X);
              91-61(Vol. VII; 89-92(Vol. IV)


            A judge inquires whether the judge may be the Grand Marshal of a [name of community] Pride Parade. The judge advises that "there will be a fund-raising event or events prior to the parade", and that there will be a rally after the parade, at which the Grand Marshal is expected to speak. Also, the parade sponsor, an organization known as [name of community] Pride, will be engaged in fund-raising activity at its booth located at the end of the parade route.

            Pursuant to section 100.4 (C) (3) (b) (ii) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct, a judge "may not be a speaker or the guest of honor at a [civic] organization's fund-raising events but the judge may attend such events". In applying this rule, and its predecessor (former 22 NYCRR 100.5[b] [2]), the Committee has stated that a judge may not speak at a fund-raising benefit sponsored by a shelter for the victims of domestic violence (Opinion 94-90, [Vol XII]), or receive a "special leadership award" during the course of a fund-raising dinner (Opinion 94-16 [Vol XII]), or be the master of ceremonies at an annual award breakfast, including a fund-raising raffle, sponsored by a community service organization (Opinion 93-24 [Vol X]), or be an honoree at a brunch held to raise funds for medical research (Opinion 91-61 [Vol VII]).

            As illustrated in the opinions cited above, a judge is prohibited from acting as a featured speaker at an event which has a fund-raising aspect. This prohibition applies even where, as in this case, the judge's name has not been used in any of the promotional materials for the fund-raising event (See Opinion 89-92, Vol. IV). In the present case, where [name of community] Pride will conduct fund-raising from its booth at the end of the parade route, and where there will be unspecified fund-raising events prior to the parade as well, the Committee believes that the parade itself, and the associated rally, must be considered fund-raising events.

            Unlike the facts in Opinion 98-15, in which this Committee advised that a judge could serve as a match announcer in a high school wrestling tournament where there was charitable fund-raising taking place in booths separate from the wrestling matches, in the instant matter the planned fund-raising is inseparable from and is clearly intended as an essential and integral feature of the sponsored events, including the parade. Accordingly, the Committee concludes that the inquiring judge should not speak at the rally or serve as the parade's Grand Marshal. The judge may, however, attend these events.